Acceptance into the Honors Program: The Honors Proposal and Seminar
Many different types of projects are conducted by students enrolled in the Department of Psychology Honors Major. Most involve the conduct of an experiment, which includes the review of research and theory in a particular area of psychology, formulation of a set of hypotheses, design of a strategy for collecting data bearing on the hypotheses, data collection, statistical analysis, and write-up of the results and their interpretation. This is a significant undertaking, so many successful projects are started when the student is doing research in a faculty member’s laboratory prior to the senior year, though this is not a requirement.
Acceptance into the Honors program occurs in the first week of the senior year, when the student submits an Honors Proposal that is approved by the department. The Honors Proposal is jointly prepared by the student and the student's faculty sponsor and submitted to the Senior Undergraduate Administrator in the office of the Undergraduate Vice Chair in Tillett 101 by the end of the first week of the fall semester. A good Honors proposal briefly (about 5 pages) outlines the background and significance of the scientific question to be addressed, proposes a hypothesis, and lays out the methods to be used for data collection and analysis including the experimental design. Especially in cases where the student’s thesis will be part of a larger research project, it should make clear what the student will actually do and establish a clear goal or endpoint for the student’s role in the project. It is understood that some research projects will be well underway by this time, while others may just be getting started, and that projects may vary widely in scope. The purpose of the proposal is to ensure that the student and faculty adviser have clearly defined and agreed upon their expectations for the project and to confirm that the project has an appropriate scope. There is a prize (the Phillips Award) awarded annually for the best Honors Proposal after review of the proposals by a committee of faculty.
The Honors proposal is due in the first week of the fall semester of the student’s senior year. The mandatory weekly seminar (01:830:490 Honors Research Design, Analysis, and Presentation) begins on the second Friday of the Fall semester, from 10:20-1:20 in ARC-105. Students cannot register for this course directly! As each Honors proposal is accepted, the student will be automatically enrolled in the course by the Department registrar – be sure to leave that time open in your schedule. In the unlikely event that this registration process is delayed for some reason, be sure to attend the class anyway.
Completion of the Honors Program: The Honors Thesis and Poster Presentation
Whatever the exact nature of the project, two final products are necessary for the student to complete the Honors Major:
A formal, written Honors Thesis, which generally includes an introduction to the background and significance of the research question, clear statement of hypotheses, description of the experimental design and methods used to collect and statistically analyze the data, detailed description of the results, and a discussion of the conclusions drawn from the study and their implications. Additional sections include the acknowledgement of support and assistance from others and a list of works cited. The thesis is to be written by the student with assistance and feedback from the student’s faculty adviser. The deadline for Thesis submission is typically in early April.
An Honors Poster Presentation, in which the student displays an outline of the project, i.e., background, purposes, methods, results, and implications. All posters are presented simultaneously at a session held early in April and which is attended by students and their friends and family, as well as by faculty advisers and other interested members of the University Community.
Both the Honors Thesis and the Honors Poster Presentation will be evaluated by a committee of faculty members. If the committee agrees that the work is of sufficient quality to merit the Honors designation, the student will receive Honors in Psychology at graduation. The top Honors projects will be selected to receive special awards at Commencement, as listed below.